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Fans reflect on ‘somber’ game day

Laura McCrystal | Monday, November 1, 2010

During the moment of silence in honor of Declan Sullivan before Saturday’s football game, sophomore Erin Wright said the only sound she heard in the Stadium was the American flag clinking against the flagpole.

“That’s what I thought was most striking,” Wright said. “I noticed a few people after it was over saying ‘oh my gosh, did you look at the flag? Did you hear the flag?'”

Sullivan, a Notre Dame junior and videographer for the University’s football team, died Wednesday after a film tower fell during football practice.

Freshman Cat Caracci compared Saturday’s moment of silence to the moment of silence before the Sept. 11 football game against Michigan. On Sept. 11, she said she remembered hearing people talking during the moment of silence, but not on Saturday during the moment in honor of Sullivan.

Wright said the overall mood on campus was different on Saturday as opposed to other home football games.

“I think the mood was much more somber all around campus,” she said.

Management Professor Suzanne Coshow wore a button she made from the same decal football players wore on their helmets to Saturday’s game in honor of Sullivan. She said Sullivan was in one of her classes this semester, and making stickers and buttons to wear and give to other fans was a way to honor his memory.

“I’m hoping that we honor him today, that we remember him,” Coshow said before the game.

Coshow also said she observed the somber mood on campus before the game, but did not hear people talking about Wednesday’s accident. While she usually attends all home football games and holds a tailgate, she did not tailgate on Saturday.

“When the parking pass came up on the [e-mail] listserv yesterday, I didn’t grab it because it didn’t seem like the usual celebration,” she said.

Tony Heitzman, who traveled from Louisville, Ky. to see his first Notre Dame football game, said he heard people talking about Wednesday’s accident on campus Saturday.

“They’re just pretty somber in their thoughts about it,” Heitzman said.

Rich Huxtable, a 1980 Tulsa graduate who lives in Kansas City, Mo., was on Notre Dame’s campus for the game Saturday. He said he heard about Sullivan’s death, but it did not change his travel plans. Since it was his first time at Notre Dame, he said he did not notice any particular mood on campus before the game.

“This is the first football game at Notre Dame I’ve been to, so I can’t compare it,” he said. “Obviously there are some neat things that happen here before the game, but if there’s a change in mood I wouldn’t notice it and I don’t see any difference.”

Junior Alyssa Sappenfield worked as a cashier at The Huddle in LaFortune Student Center Saturday afternoon before the game. She said she noticed many people wearing the decal with Sullivan’s initials.

“It was a lot quieter in [The Huddle],” Sappenfield said. “It was kind of muted.”

Senior Emily Salvaterra said she did not hear people talking about the accident at Saturday’s game, but she could tell students were thinking about it.

“When they played the Alma Mater at halftime I thought that was really powerful,” Salvaterra said. “You could tell people were taking it really seriously.”

Sam Werner contributed to this report.